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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board  /  Things you are looking for  /  Production Co $ Question...
Posted by: SteveClark, November 28th, 2018, 9:42am
Okay, so I sent a feature to a producer. He read it, liked it. This all happened within hours of me sending him a query. Then he asks me if I want to help produce it. I say sure, give me more info. He send me a contract for me to look over - and it all looks on the up and up. He’s got IMDb credits and appears to be legit - a quick google of his name produces many hits, none negative. The cost of start up is between 3-5 thousand, after which the prodco will secure additional funding, and includes back end points and a hand in casting, limited rewrites, etc. Anyway...

What do you all think about this? I mean, it seems like a fair enough model and an opportunity to get something of mine out there with someone who appears to have the experience and the features to back it up. But it all seems kinda quick - a red flag, IMO.
Posted by: SteveClark, November 28th, 2018, 10:30am; Reply: 1
Also if anyone has any ideas for questions I can hit this guy with thatd be great.
Posted by: eldave1, November 28th, 2018, 11:11am; Reply: 2

Quoted from SteveClark
Okay, so I sent a feature to a producer. He read it, liked it. This all happened within hours of me sending him a query. Then he asks me if I want to help produce it. I say sure, give me more info. He send me a contract for me to look over - and it all looks on the up and up. He’s got IMDb credits and appears to be legit - a quick google of his name produces many hits, none negative. The cost of start up is between 3-5 thousand, after which the prodco will secure additional funding, and includes back end points and a hand in casting, limited rewrites, etc. Anyway...

What do you all think about this? I mean, it seems like a fair enough model and an opportunity to get something of mine out there with someone who appears to have the experience and the features to back it up. But it all seems kinda quick - a red flag, IMO.


He wants you to put up the initial $3K - $5K? or us he doing that?
Posted by: SteveClark, November 28th, 2018, 11:40am; Reply: 3
We both put up an equal amount, between 3-5k to cover development, which would make us partners.
Posted by: eldave1, November 28th, 2018, 11:47am; Reply: 4

Quoted from SteveClark
We both put up an equal amount, between 3-5k to cover development, which would make us partners.


I would not do it.

1) What kind of Producer can't put together $10K of start up money on their own?
2) What assurance do you have that he's just not going to take your $$ and run.

Most importantly, if you are front funding yourself, there is no reason for you to be compensated in back end points - which you'd probably never see. You would want to be compensated on the same basis is the Producer is. You are both putting up equal investments and you are also putting up a script.

I could be wrong, but it smells like a scam to me.
Posted by: khamanna, November 28th, 2018, 12:05pm; Reply: 5
What does he need your part of the start-up funding for? To shoot a teaser maybe?
I don't understand it.
Posted by: Matthew Taylor, November 28th, 2018, 12:26pm; Reply: 6
I have no experience in such things - but what struck me was you said it happened within hours of sending a query letter.

How many hours? how long did this guy have to first read a feature, decide if it's viable, and whatever else producers need to consider before deciding on a project - A feature, I imagine, takes a lot of consideration - and then to decide to bring you in so quick, AND have a legal contract in front of you...

Maybe I'm sceptical, or maybe I've just got my accountant hat on too tight, but this would send alarm bells ringing for me.

I hope it is legit though.

What kind of due diligence can you do? contact the writers for the films he has credits? maybe he has done this kind of arrangement before
Posted by: jayrex, November 28th, 2018, 12:43pm; Reply: 7
I wouldnt give my money away.  Smells fishy.

If possible, see if you can contact someone on those credits you saw on IMDb to see how authentic he is.  Someones bound to have Twitter, Facebook or even their own site.
Posted by: SteveClark, November 28th, 2018, 12:59pm; Reply: 8
Matt, Kham and Dave,

All valid points you raise. And Matt well that was the very first thing that struck me as odd was the time frame it happened in. 15 minutes from query letter to response.  11/2 hours from sending him the script to him finishing the script. Then the producer proposal. ( Then off to bed) Followed this morning by the contract with the offer.

Im not going to do it. It was the producer angle that took me off guard but there are no guarantees, like Dave said, that it will even get made. Or end up in production hell, in which case itll never get made and Im still out 5k.

Just sent him an email respectfully declining, but asking if hed like to option or buy.
Posted by: eldave1, November 28th, 2018, 1:04pm; Reply: 9

Quoted from SteveClark
Matt, Kham and Dave,

All valid points you raise. And Matt well that was the very first thing that struck me as odd was the time frame it happened in. 15 minutes from query letter to response.  11/2 hours from sending him the script to him finishing the script. Then the producer proposal. ( Then off to bed) Followed this morning by the contract with the offer.

Im not going to do it. It was the producer angle that took me off guard but there are no guarantees, like Dave said, that it will even get made. Or end up in production hell, in which case itll never get made and Im still out 5k.

Just sent him an email respectfully declining, but asking if hed like to option or buy.


Smart choice.

As a final note - you don't really even know if he is who he says he is. One could easily find a producer on IMDB and then spoof them - i .e., assume their identity.
Posted by: SteveClark, November 28th, 2018, 1:08pm; Reply: 10
And Dave, as he noted there was a portion of the contract that stated that after 6 months if the production money had not be secured then I would have gotten my investment back. So a money back guarantee. However, I get the feeling that theres a way that can be danced around - such as, Well, weve raised most of the money but not all. Just give me a little more time kinda thing. Which could drag into months or years if you play the angle right.

A quick check on IMDbPro says this guy is on the up and up, however he has about 22 (!) projects that are either in development or pre-production.
Posted by: Mr.Ripley, November 28th, 2018, 1:14pm; Reply: 11
If it sounds too good to be true, then it is...unfortunately. Sorry to hear this..but its part of the crazy game were in.

Gabe
Posted by: Grandma Bear, November 28th, 2018, 1:33pm; Reply: 12

Quoted from SteveClark
The cost of start up is between 3-5 thousand, after which the prodco will secure additional funding, and includes back end points and a hand in casting, limited rewrites, etc. Anyway...

Many producers/directors out there are constantly looking for material. Typically they secure (option) rights to scripts they like enough to produce. Problem is that most of them will not put up the funding themselves, so they get the rights to scripts and then they proceed to go look for funding. It is not uncommon for these companies to have ten scripts at the time that they are pushing. Once the option runs out, let's say after two years, with no funding secured, the script goes back to the writer who is now stuck with an "old" script. This has happened to more writers than I can count. Some of them from right here. Me included. The prodco had my script for two years. That's two years that I could not show it to other producers.

I would say, don't dismiss them, but make sure you don't option it to them for a longer period of time.

Best of luck!  :)
Posted by: eldave1, November 28th, 2018, 1:57pm; Reply: 13

Quoted from Grandma Bear

Many producers/directors out there are constantly looking for material. Typically they secure (option) rights to scripts they like enough to produce. Problem is that most of them will not put up the funding themselves, so they get the rights to scripts and then they proceed to go look for funding. It is not uncommon for these companies to have ten scripts at the time that they are pushing. Once the option runs out, let's say after two years, with no funding secured, the script goes back to the writer who is now stuck with an "old" script. This has happened to more writers than I can count. Some of them from right here. Me included. The prodco had my script for two years. That's two years that I could not show it to other producers.

I would say, don't dismiss them, but make sure you don't option it to them for a longer period of time.

Best of luck!  :)


True - what you described happened to me as well. But in this case they are looking for upfront money from Steve. That is far different.
Posted by: eldave1, November 28th, 2018, 2:00pm; Reply: 14

Quoted from SteveClark
And Dave, as he noted there was a portion of the contract that stated that after 6 months if the production money had not be secured then I would have gotten my investment back. So a money back guarantee. However, I get the feeling that theres a way that can be danced around - such as, Well, weve raised most of the money but not all. Just give me a little more time kinda thing. Which could drag into months or years if you play the angle right.

A quick check on IMDbPro says this guy is on the up and up, however he has about 22 (!) projects that are either in development or pre-production.


How do you even know he is who he claims to be? Anyone can pull a name off IMDB.

The only counter I would Consider making to him is a no money - short term option. i.e., you pay zip. You give a six month option to him to go find money for the production. If he truly loves your script - he'll so that. If he is just spoofing you - he won't.

Posted by: Grandma Bear, November 28th, 2018, 2:04pm; Reply: 15

Quoted from eldave1


True - what you described happened to me as well. But in this case they are looking for upfront money from Steve. That is far different.

Ah, missed that part!

Posted by: FrankM, November 28th, 2018, 2:10pm; Reply: 16

Quoted from eldave1
1) What kind of Producer can't put together $10K of start up money on their own?


Quoted from SteveClark
A quick check on IMDbPro says this guy is on the up and up, however he has about 22 (!) projects that are either in development or pre-production.


That could add up quickly.

Keeping in mind that I haven't sold anything and therefore have no clue what I'm talking about... is there a way to verify via IMDbPro that this is the person is who he says he is? If the pro version has its own messaging system, it would at least verify that he owns the account.

If this person really is just going to shop the idea around, I'm with Kham and wonder why they need money for that. It's one thing if your script is some bizarre story where a proof-of-concept reel really helps, but in that case I'd expect the producer to take longer to decide to do it.

Optioning the script short-term for cheap does sound like the best plan. Long-term options have all the risks already mentioned.
Posted by: Forgive, November 29th, 2018, 6:31am; Reply: 17
Hey Steve - just thought I'd throw my own angle in on this; it'd be a pity to throw a good opportunity away, but there's some questions you'd need to ask this guy:

First off, if you are putting money in, then you're effectively an executive producer, and with that hat on you'd be expected to have some control over the cash and the budget. What is the total budget for the film? Often films attract additional funds if they already have funds, so is $7k the total or is he hoping to raise more?

Has he done a cost break-down for the film? It's unlikely he'd need all the money up front; casting and location scouting doesn't cost that much, and as an exec producer with control over at least some of the finances, you would usually release some of the costs against the budget and then get some kind of feedback, so you know where that part of the money has been spent (and if the budget is on track).

You're not optioning nor selling your script; the budget includes an amount for the script, and as exec you are playing a different role from that of script-writer, so keep these roles separate and discuss what you'll get for the script as a separate deal.

When costing, look at pre-production costs, production costs (including talent), and post-production costs - also check if he has any distribution people interested.

Lastly, be prepared to lose your money - even if the films gets made and goes to cinema - if you can afford to lose it, then fine, if not and you have an expectation of a return on your investment, then do not put cash into low budget filming.
Posted by: SteveClark, November 29th, 2018, 9:58am; Reply: 18

Quoted from Forgive
Hey Steve - just thought I'd throw my own angle in on this; it'd be a pity to throw a good opportunity away, but there's some questions you'd need to ask this guy:

First off, if you are putting money in, then you're effectively an executive producer, and with that hat on you'd be expected to have some control over the cash and the budget. What is the total budget for the film? Often films attract additional funds if they already have funds, so is $7k the total or is he hoping to raise more?

Has he done a cost break-down for the film? It's unlikely he'd need all the money up front; casting and location scouting doesn't cost that much, and as an exec producer with control over at least some of the finances, you would usually release some of the costs against the budget and then get some kind of feedback, so you know where that part of the money has been spent (and if the budget is on track).

You're not optioning nor selling your script; the budget includes an amount for the script, and as exec you are playing a different role from that of script-writer, so keep these roles separate and discuss what you'll get for the script as a separate deal.

When costing, look at pre-production costs, production costs (including talent), and post-production costs - also check if he has any distribution people interested.

Lastly, be prepared to lose your money - even if the films gets made and goes to cinema - if you can afford to lose it, then fine, if not and you have an expectation of a return on your investment, then do not put cash into low budget filming.


Yes it would be a shame if Im wrong about this. And he did stress that it was a producer role, but at the end of the day Id still be putting up money to get my screenplay made/sold, so its a means to the same end. Sort of.

Ill just keep send off my queries like a good little writer.
Posted by: Mr.Ripley, November 29th, 2018, 10:48am; Reply: 19
Which script was it if you dont mind me asking?
Posted by: SteveClark, November 29th, 2018, 11:04am; Reply: 20
Christmasville. The one I sent you a couple weeks ago.
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